With the official launch of his book today and his 40th anniversary in the rearview mirror, Giorgio Armani must be in a somewhat reflective mood. Which is not the same as nostalgic. Rather, he’s firmly focused on the future. Just ask him.


Between his two shows on Monday, Armani said that he’s not immune to the relentless pressure to stay current; he thus determined to avoid the expected on his runway. “This is an alternative, an evolution,” he said. “All designers are terrified of designing looks for the ‘sciura’ [highly proper Milanese woman]. So I am not thinking of a bourgeois woman but of a modern woman who looks at what is around her, and if she is intelligent she will make it part of her DNA.”


The result was a collection Armani called “Fil Rouge.” The title misled as the overarching theme was a jaunty nautical motif. Armani set sail with bolts of red, white and blue, incorporating seafaring references in ropes, flag motifs and countless varieties of stripes. They came skinny, wide, straight, wavy and broken, in a range of fabrics from natty to high-glitz. By day, he dressed up his sportswear orientation with organza, using it for wide pants worn with playful striped tops, one under an airy, oversize white shirt.


Armani indeed retreated from traditional suitings, coming closest with a sheer organza look and shorts suits, one in a narrow stripe embroidered with graphic, glittering medallions. But he showed no dearth of jackets, including variations on the short, boxy shapes he loves. He kept dresses and skirts short, flirty and often politely revealing on top via halter and bustier bodices. One charmer: a navy strapless drawstring number with two wide blocks of red sequined stripes.


The visuals continued in prints and bold appliqués. It was all upbeat, snappy and young. In fact, once in a while it swung cute to the extreme. But Armani is clearly out to prove that his sartorial DNA is as fresh now as ever.

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